Online sales predicted to surge by 35-45% during Black Friday

UK online retail sales are expected to grow 35-45% year-on-year during the Black Friday peak trading period from 23-30 November 2020.

This is according to a new forecast by IMRG, which has taken into account the dramatic shift to online shopping during Covid-19 as well as the introduction of a new four-week national lockdown in England on 5 November, in which physical shops have been forced to close.

IMRG said that eCommerce sales so far this year are up 34.9%, which is already a significantly faster rate of growth compared to the whole of 2019, which was 6.7%. The online retail association is also expecting shoppers to begin their Christmas shopping earlier this year, with consumers being actively encouraged to do so to avoid delivery backlogs.

In light of this situation, IMRG added it has observed eCommerce retailers launching their Black Friday campaigns earlier this year, finding that 4.3% were live on 4 November compared to just 2.3% in 2019.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, commented: “We were anticipating a huge surge online this peak, and circumstances have conspired to ensure that is the case; the stores are closed, furlough has been extended and shoppers are being advised to get the bulk of their Christmas shopping done before December. There is a possibility that could mean people spend more in the early weeks of November, pulling some of the volume away from the Black Friday week – that seems the only realistic reason why the online spend for that period could come in lower than +35%.”

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG, added: “This year’s huge growth rates, and the expected online bonanza the Black Friday period will deliver, underline retail’s rapid structural shift online. This does not feel like a temporary development; further evidence is no longer required that this is a permanent shift. Retailers, including those with stores, with strong online propositions, will continue to trade well. Those without, for whom it’s not already too late, must adapt now if they are to survive.”

Last week, the BDO recorded a boost in online sales during October following a levelling off in previous months, which is likely a result of the introduction of stricter lockdown measures in many parts of the country.